Lindsey Graham: For McCarthyism before He Was Against It

Zachary Roth raises a really important point about Lindsey Graham (aka Rahm’s Attorney General). Though in recent days Graham has come out against Liz Cheney’s McCarthyism, he was one of the Republicans who started this whole witch hunt last November by signing a letter (authored by Chuck Grassley) asking for a details on those who had defended detainees in the past:

To better understand the scope of these apparent conflicts of interest, Senator Grassley asked for the following information:(1) The names of political appointees in the Department who represented detainees, worked for organizations advocating on behalf of detainees, or worked for organizations advocating on terrorism or detainee policy; (2) The cases or projects that these appointees worked on with respect to detainees prior to joining the Justice Department; (3) The cases or projects relating to detainees that they have worked on since joining the Justice Department; and (4) A list of all political appointees who have been instructed to, or have voluntarily recused themselves from working on specific detainee cases, projects, or matters pending before the courts or at the Justice Department.

Unfortunately, your response to Senator Grassley’s request was less than encouraging as you repeatedly stated you would merely “consider” the request. It is imperative that the Committee have this information so we can assure the American people that the Department is in fact formulating terrorism and detainee policy without bias or preconceived beliefs.

In addition to the information requested at the hearing, we ask that you also provide responses to the following related questions:

(1) Have any ethics waivers been granted to individuals working on terrorism or detainee issues pursuant to President Obama’s Executive Order dated January 21, 2009, titled “Ethical Considerations for Executive Branch Employees?” (2) What are the Department’s criteria for recusing an individual who previously lobbied on detainee issues, represented specific detainees, worked on terrorism or detainee policy for advocacy groups, or formulated terrorism or detainee policy? (3) What is the scope of recusal for each of the political appointees who have recused themselves from working on specific detainee cases, projects, or matters? (e.g. is an individual who previously represented a detainee recused only from matters related to that individual or from other detainees?) Please provide a detailed listing of the scope of each recusal.

Now, Zach says Graham’s office has not yet responded to his inquiry for clarification on this issue.

But Zach, like me, seems to think this is a significant issue given that Graham is apparently being treated like a good faith partner on efforts to close Gitmo. Are we really going to compromise on Constitutional issues with Graham, when in six months time he could be back scaremongering with the McCarthyites again?

27 replies
  1. bmaz says:

    Are we really going to compromise on Constitutional issues with Graham, when in six months time he could be back scaremongering with the McCarthyites again?

    Is there anything in the track record of this Administration that would lead you to believe otherwise? Come on, be honest……

  2. JohnLopresti says:

    The literature on McCarthyism is extensive; consider a television program transcript ERMurrow March 9, 1954. Then there is the thought-oversight issue which developed at several colleges in the aftermath to the uptight fifties; UC*s. The latter link is a series of chronicles of state politics and the perennially controversial concerns of student speech, with the counterpoint of the limp efforts by social regressives. Something about the secrecy of that historical era*s polemicists from the reactionary part of the spectrum produced an aura of importance. Still, the changes happened and the society improved, and the ideological worries became better managed, in my view.

    I doubt LGraham has changed his leopard spots; more likely, he is working with current minority party leadership in both chambers to pursue a political smear campaign with replete with rallying *round the flag; the TPMM question is a valuable one. I wonder if LGraham+co have a significant disagreement with the establishment clause, double entendre being incidental; since the new oppositionalities in which government has engaged since the aumf include an intellectual counterbalance which in many respects is analog to the pink scares of yore. Some of it was legitimate, but the political overtones pretty destructive.

  3. kevincharlottenc says:

    Again we’re beating up on Graham. I don’t understand.
    He is agreeing to be a goodfaith partner to closing Gitmo. In that case, this letter is actually important. They are asking good questions, which wouldn’t be problematic if they were answered swiftly, bluntly, with facts, and slapped on their desk by Rahm. It has nothing to do with McCarthyism. I think the WH should be doing a better job answering all sorts of questions about threats. Such as, wtf happened to the people who let that couple breeze past security into the WH during a party and get close to the president? Such as wtf they are even considering military tribunals for KSM and other Sept 11th plotters. It’s a partisan letter, yes, full of typical right wing demands. I’m sure (I mean I hope) the Dems submitted such letters to the Regime of Cheney and Rove. And right they should have. What’s the problem here?

  4. cregan says:

    Dems and progressives would want to know any lawyer who had defended Ku Klux Klan members who was being considered for positions in the Civil Rights Division–and rightly so. More than that, they likely would do everything in their power to block them.

    Nothing wrong with taking on unpopular defendants. It is very necessary.

    But, in the interest of full disclosure, it ought to be known.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Wasn’t aware that the defendents’ lawyers were being considered for govt posts. Link please.

      • cregan says:

        Read the post by empty wheel that started the thread.

        To me, there are two kinds of lawyers. There are the “professional” lawyers who go to the wall to defend their client no matter what his view or what his background or what he or she has been accused of. That also applies if the lawyer is representing an agency or organization. This is the classic idea.

        The other kind is more motivated by deeply held beliefs. They tend only to defend clients of a certain type and generally with whom they have some agreement. They don’t defend clients whose views or offenses run counter to their own beliefs. These can be on the right or left. You will find nearly all of their clients are of a similar type.

        Nothing wrong with either type. But, if you have the someone of the second type, in a government position, they may continue to work from their own firmly held beliefs as they had before. In other words, they would have a bias, left or right. To expect them to act counter to those beliefs could be long odds.

        Full disclosure of who is being added to JD staff to represent all of us seems pretty reasonable, especially in the second type. You don’t want a guy who has only defended racists being hired to enforce Civil Rights laws do you? There is a reasonable probability he will not enforce the laws fairly or evenly.

        It is easy to get offended when the questions concern someone who shares your own ideas. It seems they are attacking you. The question is more objectively seen if you asked, “Would I want to know if Bush was hiring someone who had generally only defended racists to work in the Civil Rights divisions”

        If your answer is “no, I don’t think I should know that,” then you have every right to get down on Graham.

  5. orionATL says:

    it seems so odd, so incompetently odd,

    that peacepipe-smoker barach obama,

    has hired one of the most hyper-aggressive chiefs-of-staff in ages, a green mamba of a chief-of-staff, at least where democrats are concerned.

    peace-pipe and kick ash, what a team!

  6. Bluetoe2 says:

    No one is surprised by the hypocrisy and the venality of any Republican. To not recognize that Republicans and their neo-liberal allies in the “Democratic Party” as the true enemies of the people of the U.S. is naivete without excuse. The question is what the fuck are we going to DO about them?

  7. Teddy Partridge says:

    Are we really going to compromise on Constitutional issues with Graham, when in six months time he could be back scaremongering with the McCarthyites again?


  8. orionATL says:

    who are the signatories?

    i can make out grassley and the odious hatch.

    i assume the very light scratch in between those two is graham.

    john cornyn?

    tom coburn?

    the others i can’t make out.

    and what was their motive in doing this?

    usually there is a subcontext known by, e.g., the signatories on this doc.

    what goal were the signatories striving for in this case?

    • harpie says:

      You’re welcome. I wouldn’t be surprised if most, or all, of them have ties to the Federalist Society, which ties in with Marcy‘s comment @19, [which I too find “concerning”].

  9. Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle says:

    Are we really going to compromise on Constitutional issues with Graham, when in six months time he could be back scaremongering with the McCarthyites again?

    Yes!! Hasn’t everyone figured out Rahm by now? It’s really not that hard, and he’s actually very upfront about it. Has anyone read the most recent NYT piece of hagiography about Rahm? Has admits he’ll try away principles for “victories”. That everything is negotiable. The Constitution is just as much a “god damned piece of paper” to Rahm as it was to Dubya.

  10. emptywheel says:

    This is concerning, but I don’t yet have anything to say about it.

    In 2004 Attorney General Eric Holder was one of four former Clinton administration officials offering an amicus brief questioning President Bush’s assertion that he had the inherent authority to indefinitely detain as “enemy combatants” American citizens captured in the US.

    The brief, offered in the case Donald Rumsfeld v Jose Padilla, can be read HERE. Holder’s co-authors include former Attorney General Janet Reno, former deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann, and the former counsel for the CIA Jeffrey Smith.

    A Republican official on the Senate Judiciary Committee tells ABC News that Holder did not disclose this amicus brief before his confirmation hearings.

  11. prostratedragon says:

    Oh dear, I wonder whether this is the handiwork of — what shall we call them, he having no handle and Pig Missle being suddenly inadequate though no doubt at a limit for this blog— anyway, theirs, or some ambitious editor:

    They title their story “‘Acceptable’ Risk: Holder’s undisclosed Padilla connection.”

  12. orionATL says:

    ew @19

    “…holder did not disclose…”

    as if these sons of bitches didn’t know every step holder had ever taken.

    this is a republican psuedo-concern device to get at holder.

    these republican bastards may actually end up toughening buttercup up.

    then on the other hand, we have the
    possibility of rahmee freelancing.

    fact, this smells like rham in the morning.

    office pool on how much longer emanuel lasts?

    i’ve already said i think he’ll be gone right after the november deluge.

    but i don’t join in the usual rham bashing by “progressives”,

    my view is not ideological. it is personnel oriented. i think emanuel is an arrogant, imprudent, bullying son of a bitch who
    has no business operating at this level of american politics.

  13. macaquerman says:

    It might just be that Graham’s signature is less about approval of the misuse of the information than it is about the defending senatorial right to it.

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